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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lake Simcoe Mega-Marina Hearing Adjournment Denied: First Nations interests set aside as hearing plows forward

Lake Simcoe Mega-Marina Hearing Adjournment Denied: First Nations interests set aside as hearing plows forward

    ALLISTON, ON, Aug. 21 /CNW/ - Environmentalists are profoundly
disappointed the Ontario Municipal Board has dismissed a precedent-setting
adjournment request in the BBP mega-marina hearing in Innisfil Ontario.
The Board will commence on Tuesday the controversial hearing into the
1,600 unit, 1,000 boat marina development project, despite a complete lack of
aboriginal consultation in the face of demonstrated interest on the part of
First Nations.
Tim Gilbert of Gilbert's LLP brought a motion to adjourn the hearing in
order to address the fact that the developer failed to provide notice to and
consult with First Nations; the proceedings are premature as the proponent
lacks the necessary environmental approvals; the Premier of Ontario has
recently announced the Lake Simcoe Protection Act; and, finally, the Moving
Parties are unable to fully participate in the proceedings given the
atmosphere of intimidation.
In a decision released over e-mail at 11:15 am today, the board dismissed
the motion to adjourn. Written reasons will be released prior to the
commencement of the hearing on Tuesday August 21 at 10 am.
"We're shocked that a provincial Tribunal could dismiss our concerns
without even letting us become a Party," said Luc Lainé, cultural heritage
liaison for the Huron-Wendat in Ontario. "We told the OMB the developer's
consultant spoke to imposters and not our Nation, and they went ahead and
endorsed this process anyway. The Supreme Court of Canada is very clear about
the duty to consult First Nations; somebody should tell Minister Gerretsen and
the OMB."
The Huron-Wendat Nation, far from receiving adequate notice to allow for
meaningful consultation, are still awaiting a response from the Ministry of
Municipal Affairs and Housing to letters sent by their Grand Chief on July 25
and August 7.
The various Parties to the hearing are considering whether to appeal the
decision to dismiss the motion in the Ontario Superior Court, and may seek an
order staying the proceedings. Justice Lax recently granted leave to appeal a
decision of the OMB for not following its rules in the Queen West Triangle OMB
"The OMB has endorsed the practice of treating First Nations as second
class citizens," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental
Defence. "A court needs to review the Board's decision that Rogers Cable and
Canada Post get full hearing rights, but you can make up the rules for First
Nations as you go along."
The Board's decision to dismiss the motion to adjourn also left parties
wondering at the logic behind proceeding with planning approvals for a project
premised on a marina which has yet to receive any approvals from the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
"The OMB is putting the cart before the horse with this decision," said
Don Avery, President of the Innisfil District Association. "The developer is
years away from getting the marina approved, but the Board wants to charge
ahead under rules everyone knows are going to change in favour of the Lake."
Additionally, the premise of fractional ownership of the resort has left
Parties shaking their head in wonder.
"Designating this urban settlement a 'resort' is exploiting a blatant
loophole in the Official Plan," said Natalie Helferty, Director of
Conservation Policy, Ontario Nature. "This loophole was closed by the
Greenbelt on the other side of Lake Simcoe two years ago," she added.
The Ontario Municipal Board hearing resumes Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at
10:00 a.m. at the Nottawasaga Inn in Alliston, Ontario (Room 41), 6015 Highway
89; directions available online: The
hearing is expected to last for four months.
Campaign Lake Simcoe is a partnership of Environmental Defence, the
Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, and Ontario Nature


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